Trump's campaign pledge to clean up corruption is looking a lot like Nixon's pledge to end the Vietnam War https://t.co/6hfDgmRPmU
— Gabriel Snyder (@gabrielsnyder) January 8, 2017
BettyC posted about some of Kushner’s most glaring conflicts earlier. As with every comic-book crime cartel magnate, there’s a varied if mostly banal JKush backstory. From the NYTimes article:
On the night of Nov. 16, a group of executives gathered in a private dining room of the restaurant La Chine at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The table was laden with Chinese delicacies and $2,100 bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild. At one end sat Wu Xiaohui, the chairman of the Waldorf’s owner, Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial behemoth with estimated assets of $285 billion and an ownership structure shrouded in mystery. Close by sat Jared Kushner, a major New York real estate investor whose father-in-law, Donald J. Trump, had just been elected president of the United States.
It was a mutually auspicious moment.
Mr. Wu and Mr. Kushner — who is married to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and is one of his closest advisers — were nearing agreement on a joint venture in Manhattan: the redevelopment of 666 Fifth Avenue, the fading crown jewel of the Kushner family real-estate empire. Anbang, which has close ties to the Chinese state, has seen its aggressive efforts to buy up hotels in the United States slowed amid concerns raised by Obama administration officials who review foreign investments for national security risk.
Now, according to two people with knowledge of the get-together, Mr. Wu toasted Mr. Trump and declared his desire to meet the president-elect, whose ascension, he was sure, would be good for global business.
Unlike the Trump Organization, which has shifted its focus from acquisition to branding of the Trump name, the Kushner family business, led by Mr. Kushner, is a major real estate investor across the New York area and beyond. The company has participated in roughly $7 billion in acquisitions in the last decade, many of them backed by opaque foreign money, as well as financial institutions Mr. Kushner’s father-in-law will soon have a hand in regulating…
"a strong appearance that a foreign entity is using Kushner's business to try to influence U.S. policy.” https://t.co/sxAzFMCqs3
— Adam Jentleson (@AJentleson) January 7, 2017
Kushner indispensable bc 1 of family must always be w him to keep track of what happens bc DJT can’t remember
Not joking, I believe that
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) January 9, 2017
Important new cover story at NYMag by Andrew Rice, “The Young Trump – Jared Kushner is more like his father-in-law than anyone imagines”:
… During the latter stages of the presidential race, when all the so-called smart people in politics and media were preparing to shunt Trump rudely from the stage, he relied on Kushner the most. “He prefers the soothing, whispery voice of his son-in-law,” the Times reported in a prematurely funereal dispatch on November 6. Two nights later, as Mr. Trump learned he would soon be President Trump, it was Kushner’s voice that was screening the calls to his suddenly all-important cell phone. When Trump paid his first postelection visit to the White House, Kushner accompanied him, taking photos of the Oval Office with his iPhone and strolling with President Obama’s chief of staff. Now he and Ivanka were preparing to move to Washington, where they reportedly are set to occupy a $5.6 million mansion with their three children. “I’m hoping that he’s our Valerie Jarrett,” says Kathy Wylde, the Partnership’s chief executive, “the last person to speak to the president on matters that are important to New York.”
Kushner’s influence appears to be one hard truth at the center of the transition’s chimerical swirl of intrigue. “I think the bottom line is he believes in Donald, and he believes in the opportunity to rethink the way our Executive branch conducts itself,” says Strauss Zelnick, a media investor who is close with Kushner and attended the Partnership event. Kushner has thrown himself into the role of recruiter, exploiting his network in the real-estate industry and finance. He’s gotten advice from everyone, even a rabbi he was close to at Harvard. Kushner’s business dealings, like Trump’s, involve numerous partners and lenders from around the globe, even immigrants investing via a controversial cash-for-visa program, and are likely to come under great scrutiny. He has spent much of the transition period trying to figure out how to remove himself from potential conflicts of interest. Trump seems unconcerned. Kushner flattered the Partnership audience by saying the president-elect was happy to be bringing so many billionaires to D.C., asking, “Who else to do you want to see cutting deals?”…
Throughout the campaign, the depth of Kushner’s commitment to Trump’s reactionary agenda was surrounded by a bit of what Henry Kissinger — a Kushner admirer — would call constructive ambiguity. He didn’t grant on-the-record interviews or give a speech expressing his beliefs at the Republican National Convention. His decision to leave behind his business, his prior political affiliations, and quite a few friendships in order to serve Trump remains mystifying to many people who thought they knew him. True, he had always been quick to champion Trump to his many detractors and expressed admiration for his knack for self-promotion and his impish ability to play the press for suckers. But Kushner never gave the impression that he had anything more than a grudging son-in-law’s level of tolerance for Trump’s more radical positions. Back when Trump was spinning birther conspiracy theories, which were lapped up by gullible Republicans, one person who talked to Kushner says he offered assurances that his father-in-law didn’t really believe that stuff.
Yet Trump and Kushner have more in common than surface appearances might suggest. They are both bridge-and-tunnel guys — Trump is from Queens, Kushner from Livingston, New Jersey — who made their names in Manhattan and lived through tumultuous periods of tabloid fire and financial adversity. As a developer, Trump took big risks in the 1980s and faced bankruptcy in the 1990s; Kushner took big risks before the 2008 financial crash and flirted with losing his family’s flagship building, 666 Fifth Avenue. Both came back. Kushner is often called “soft-spoken,” in contrast to his bombastic father-in-law, but people who have worked with him say that’s deceiving: His voice is just literally soft. His opinions are anything but deferential. “He’s very aggressive,” says Zelnick, who says that once Kushner makes up his mind, “it may look like he’s barreling down a path.” Above all, he and Trump share a clannish outlook on life, business, and politics. Trump prizes loyalty, especially when it flows upward, and no defender has been more steadfast during his turbulent struggle than Kushner. Neither forgets when he’s been wronged. They both appear to enjoy the metallic taste of payback, although of the two, Trump may be the more forgiving…
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 8, 2017
Thing is, while he’s hardly stupid, Jared Kushner seems to have a strong dose of overconfidence — as Ann Richards said about another fortunate son, “He was born on third base, and thinks he hit a triple.” Last August, Lizzie Widdicombe, in the New Yorker:
… Jared Kushner describes his father’s downfall as the defining event of his life. The man whom he idolized had become a source of humiliation and grief. But he also took Charlie’s view of the crisis: that his father had been a victim. In an interview with the real-estate trade paper the Real Deal, Charlie said, “I don’t believe God and my parents will ever forgive my brother and sister for instigating a criminal investigation and being cheerleaders for the government and putting their brother in jail because of jealousy, hatred and spite.”
The jail sentence interrupted Jared’s trajectory. He had attended Harvard, a circumstance that, as the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Daniel Golden described in “The Price of Admission,” may have been connected to a gift of $2.5 million that his parents pledged to the university, in 1998.
I overlapped with Kushner at Harvard, where he cut a noticeable figure. On a campus full of T-shirts and cargo shorts, he wore dress shirts and jeans from the then trendy label 7 for All Mankind. And he drove a Range Rover around campus. “He didn’t do it with a sense of humor,” one classmate recalled. “He did it, like, ‘I’m fucking rich.’ ”
As a freshman, Kushner joined the I.O.P.—the Institute of Politics, where future D.C. types hang out—but he drifted away after a semester, eventually becoming a member of the Fly, a “final” club (Harvard’s version of a fraternity). Still, he was not a party animal. His friend and roommate Nitin Saigal told me, “One of the first times I met him was sitting in Annenberg,” a campus dining hall. “Everyone was goofing around. He was reading Crain’s New York Business.” As a sideline to his classes, Kushner bought buildings in nearby Somerville, converted them into condominiums, and sold them, for a reported profit of more than twenty million dollars…
… In 2006, while his father was in prison, Jared bought, for ten million dollars, the Observer, a weekly paper founded by the investment banker Arthur Carter, which was known for its curdled take on the New York power élite. (I was an intern there in 2004.) The paper had a tiny circulation, and routinely lost money, but it was devoured by insiders in the industries it covered: media, politics, and real estate.
Kushner had a honeymoon period with the paper’s longtime editor, Peter Kaplan, but the partnership grew strained. “They had a tortured, love-hate relationship,” David Michaelis, a friend of Kaplan’s, said. “Peter was always saying to me, it was like asking your son for the car keys.” Kaplan resigned in 2009, and Jared went through a succession of editors; according to several of them, his opinion of the product—the articles themselves—ranged from lack of interest to disdain. One former editor said, “He hates reporters and the press. Viscerally.”
But the Observer gave Kushner a kind of access that money alone couldn’t. Soon after buying the paper, he had dinner with Rupert Murdoch, and asked for guidance. Thereafter, the two spoke on the phone several times a week. Bob Sommer, who was president of the Observer Media Group from 2007 to 2009, said that he became accustomed to hearing things like “Here’s Rupert’s business model,” “Rupert does it this way,” “We’re going to turn it into a profitable media business, and Rupert knows how to run a media business.” Kushner and Murdoch became friends, and Murdoch passed on books by such conservative thinkers as Charles Murray and Niall Ferguson. (After Murdoch and Wendi Deng divorced, in 2014, Kushner helped set him up with an architect for his bachelor pad.) The friendship might have had something to do with Kushner’s political awakening: readers of the Observer’s editorial page noticed a shift, from a Clinton-Cuomo-esque, centrist liberalism to a more conservative view, reminiscent of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. (The Kushner spokesperson said, “Jared is not involved in running the paper day-to-day.”) In turn, a former associate of Murdoch’s told me, “I think Jared’s been the key in getting Rupert to come around to the idea of a Trump Presidency.”…
If Jared Kushner can do for America what he did for The New York Observer our nation will be a blog within 3 years.
— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) January 9, 2017
From Esquire, last August, Vicky Ward on “Jared Kushner’s Second Act“:
… Jared’s zealous support for Trump’s presidential campaign can be explained in part by a sense of loyalty that has been trained in him since birth, one way in which he and Ivanka are perfectly matched. Both have been raised in hermetically sealed family units—nearly every day the adult Trump children have lunch with each other in Trump Tower—and taught never to question their parents’ narratives in public, no matter how troubling they may be. When Trump’s anti-immigrant comments caused a number of companies to sever their ties with his properties, Ivanka told a source who commiserated with her about the damage to the Trump brand, “It’s his money. My father’s entire life has been a dream come true. He has to follow this dream.”
But many people who have dealt with Jared in the past suspect that his embrace of Trump’s political posturings carries a strong whiff of pure ambition. “How many people get that close to a presidential race?” asks Michael Fascitelli, Vornado’s former CEO and president. “In the real estate industry? Nobody, right?” And even if Trump were to lose in November by a large margin, he will nevertheless walk away from the election having won the support of a third or more of the American electorate. Whether Trump wins or loses, his son-in-law will almost certainly have a seat at the table. Jared is not one to waste a chance, and it seems unlikely that he will squander the entree into national consciousness that Trump’s campaign has given him…
What happens if Kushner & Elektra split up? Does he move to Russia? Or does he lock Trump’s out of WH? Who goes to Avignon?
— Dana Houle (@DanaHoule) January 9, 2017
Part of the problem is that rich men’s sons can be easy marks for smarter… promoters. (Remember “Bush’s brain,” Karl Rove?) Kushner seems to have been the one responsible for introducing his father-in-law to Steve Bannon. Per the NYTimes, last November:
… When Mr. Bannon was recently accused of anti-Semitism and of promoting white supremacist views and conspiracy theories, Mr. Kushner reassured the Trump team. He called Mr. Bannon a man of character and said the widespread criticism was a smear, according to a senior Republican official, speaking about private discussions on the condition of anonymity…
Two quotes you need to read side by side.
1. From Trump
2. From Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon
Spread this widely. pic.twitter.com/lKMoDpMW0X
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) November 14, 2016
Some men actually do want to watch the world burn. And profit from the panic. pic.twitter.com/HERGjAdt2h
— Schooley (@Rschooley) January 10, 2017